Live and direct with your mobile
In this week's guest post about using social media I'll be discussing how mobile phones can be used as powerful tools for capturing moments and for creating and sharing content online.
Most current mobile phones come with a reasonable quality camera built in and the ability to add and run applications over the phone network. Because I carry my phone with me wherever I go, I often find myself capturing moments, places, people and things that I never would have previously - and because my phone is connected to the internet using a standard called 3G, I can instantly upload and share my photos and videos online without needing to connect to my computer.
There are many different mobile phones, networks and mobile-enabled services to choose from and the ones I mention here might not be, for you, the best or least expensive so do look around. It's also worth noting that, unless you have an unlimited data plan, uploading or streaming from your mobile can be very expensive and there are horror stories abound about people who have used data intensive mobile applications whilst abroad - it's best to check with your network provider before getting started.
In January, a passenger on a ferry across the Hudson River in New York used his mobile phone to take a now iconic photo of a partially submerged plane in the water and upload it to TwitPic, alerting his friends on Twitter in the process. The now iconic image of a partially submerged plane in the Hudson River, taken by a passenger on the iPhone and uploaded using TwitPic, is a great example of the utility of having a network enabled camera with you at all times.
As I've travelled to meet each of the Big Green Challenge finalists, I've used twitter and twitpic to update my friends as to my movements and, through doing so, have picked up all sorts of local knowledge that's either smoothed my way on public transportation or helped me locate free wifi access, a few good coffees and to avoid at least one bad meal. That's genuinely useful.
Another service I've used widely is Zonetag, a photo uploader created by Yahoo Research Labs, which uploads geo-tagged photographs to Flickr, the photo-sharing service I discussed in an earlier post here. There are other uploaders out there - shozu is a popular one - so it's worth trying a few to see which works best for your needs.
You can also shoot and stream live video from a mobile handset using services such as Qik and Flixwagon. I personally use the former but, as far as I can see, both offer pretty much the same core functionality - to stream video live and to see comments from people who are watching remotely. Although consumer services, news organisations, including the BBC, have started using these services.
Last year, I used a mobile phone to capture and live stream BBC News Technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, streaming a mobile interview with Jim Buckmaster, the CEO of online listings service Craigslist.
In addition to services that allow users to create and upload images and videos, most major blogging and social networking platforms have created applications that work on a range of mobile phones and - better still - most of these applications are free or very inexpensive.
I hope you found this quick overview of mobile services interesting and useful. Please do leave a comment if you've worked one of these tools into what you're doing online or as an organisation.
In next week's blog post on social media, I'll be talking about blogging, both as a type of service or tool and as a technique.